The test series between Pakistan and the West Indies has just concluded, and the two leg-spinners, Yasir Shah and Devendra Bishoo, have had widely differing levels of success. I will break down the individual performances of both bowlers, analyze their strategy and look at the impact each has had for their team.
Yasir Shah’s five wicket haul in the second innings triggered a big collapse. The West Indies trailed by only 121 runs but were quickly reduced to 89/4, with Shah running through four of their top-order batsmen. The West Indies were eventually bowled out for a mere 152 runs as Yasir went on to pick up 6/63 by dismissing Alzarri Joseph and Shannon Gabriel at the end. In total, Yasir picked up eight wickets while Bishoo only managed a pair.
Bishoo removed Ahmed Shehzad and Younis Khan in quick succession but began fading away as the match progressed and the Pakistan batsmen settled in.
Yasir grabbed seven wickets in the following innings but it didn’t give Pakistan a real sniff as the West Indian tail-order rose to the occasion and created several strong partnerships. After they removed Brathwaite and Chase, Pakistan were unable to do much about the 80-run stand between Shai Hope and Vishaul Singh.
With a target of 188 runs on a tricky wicket in the final innings, Pakistan collapsed to a mere 81 runs. Interestingly, all the wickets were picked up by the quicks, Bishoo just in the mix for variety.
Yasir again outclassed Bishoo in picking up wickets and making an impact on the game. Bishoo dismissed both Younis and Misbah, both getting out to their favorite shots - the sweep and the reverse sweep, but Yasir once again picked up a five-wicket haul. His dismissal of Shannon Gabriel with just 6 balls left to go for a draw will remain as one of the shining moments in Pakistan cricket’s history. This was the wicket that gave Pakistan their first-ever series win in the Caribbean, and their legends Misbah and Younis the perfect sign-off.
Bishoo picked one whereas Yasir picked two wickets in the first innings. The line of attack for both these leg spinners (against right handers) has been around off stump or just outside. Bishoo pitched his deliveries more outside off but due to his inconsistency the approach was not particularly effective. We can see a lot of balls put away whenever they were overpitched or just short of a good length.
Yasir conceded boundaries when he bowled fuller (just outside off) but Bishoo got away with it thanks to a sedate Pakistan batting display. Both bowlers struggled particularly because there wasn’t enough purchase from the pitch. Yasir didn’t quite bowl where he needed to, either dropping the ball too short or tossing it too full. His lack of control was evident in the 76th over of Day 1.
Holder has a liking to the shot through extra cover, and Yasir gave him the slightest of width. Holder, with his height and long reach, just stepped forward and smashed him through extra cover. That wasn’t really a bad ball.
75.4 Y.Shah to Holder
The next ball was much fuller than the previous one and it was dispatched for six in the same region.
75.5 Y.Shah to Holder
In the second innings, Yasir bowled a bit quicker and used the straighter one to a wonderful effect against the right handed batsmen.
Three of his four wickets against right-handers were quicker deliveries. His pace has throughout been less than or equal to 55 mph but on this occasion it was closer to 65 mph. Keeping his line of attack against right-handers around off stump, Yasir occasionally experimented with turning the ball slightly from middle and leg. Against left-handers, however, he bowled directly into the rough from round the wicket and did very well. He deceived Hetmyer in length and induced an edge from Powell to a ball not quite there for the drive.
20.3 Y. Shah to S. Hetmyer
26.6 Y. Shah to K. Powell
Bishoo bowled well just outside off stump against right-handers, whereas Yasir looked to pitch the ball on around middle and off.
Bishoo’s plan of getting batsmen to reach for the ball outside off only resulted in Pakistan batsmen either watching the ball go to the keeper or sweeping it from well outside off. Bishoo dismissed Azhar Ali from round the wicket, getting it to rip from well outside leg stump to catch Azhar’s outside edge. Bishoo also tried to pitch the ball well outside leg stump to bowl the batsmen round their legs which is evident from the pitch map. While the strategy was sound, the success was limited.
101.5 Bishoo to A.Ali
Shadab Khan, another legspinner, also made his debut in this test match but his bowling was all over the place:
We can see a lot of balls dropped short and a number of times overpitched. Shadab gave width to someone like Jason Holder and leaked a fair number of runs. He was not careful enough in keeping his lengths correct and Holder once again used his long reach to great effect.
59.4 Shadab to Holder
Yasir Shah picked up seven wickets in his team’s second innings, but Bishoo didn’t bowl a single ball. All of the wickets were thus picked up by the seamers.
Yasir had some success against the left-handers in the first innings as he got the ball to turn and bounce but couldn’t create an impact against the right handers. His only wicket against the right handers was Shane Dowrich, a delivery that had everything: angle, drift, turn and bounce.
Bishoo in second innings didn’t get a chance to bowl at the lefties in the Pakistan side (Shan Masood and Amir), as Roston Chase was chosen to bowl at them instead.
Bishoo took the all-important wickets of Younis Khan and Misbah-ul-Haq in their final innings. He beguiled Misbah from a good-length ball whereas Younis was caught sweeping a very full ball.
26.5 Bishoo to Misbah ul Haq
30.4 Bishoo to Younis Khan
On the other hand, Yasir’s ploy of having men around the bat and bowling into the rough against left handers worked as they prodded forward with hard hands and nicked easily to fielders. Shane Dowrich was caught at short leg whereas Brathwaite fell to a short ball that bounced more than he expected.
43.1 Y.Shah to Dowrich
10.3 Y.Shah to Brathwaite
The final wicket of Gabriel was quite an interesting one as Yasir had tried everything – bowling that middle stump line and spinning it away, switching his angle to round the wicket and then finally he came over the wicket and bowled it outside off (as instructed by Younis) and it worked! He attempted a heave but just ended up dragging the ball onto the stumps.
95.5 Y.Shah to Gabriel